Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FORGET (10/17/19)
- TITLE: The Theatre of Life
By Corinne Smelker
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â€œMom forgot, again.â€ Alistairâ€™s big blue eyes turned to me. â€œDad was yelling, again. I think he might leave.â€
We sat in the back of the vast theatre, feet up on the chairs in front of us, eating popcorn, while we watched the bustle of a play rehearsal take place on the stage. As usual my father was in the thick of things, Joan was adjusting a costume, and I saw Mary, Alistairâ€™s mom, standing motionless next to her, staring into the blackness of the auditorium.
I didnâ€™t know what to say. Alistair wasnâ€™t really a friend. I saw him twice a year for a few weeks as our parents helped the local theatre put on a childrenâ€™s play. We were thrown together by proximity, not by mutual interests. I cannot, to this day, think of one thing Alistair and I have in common. In the late 70s and early 80s he was a video gamer, at the time he was the only person I knew who could afford a personal computer and game system. He loved â€œPink Floydâ€ and played their records every chance he got. I preferred games to gaming, and Phil Collins to Pink Floyd. It was weird, him confiding in me.
â€œWhat do you mean?â€
â€œWell. This morning she forgot a pot on the stoveâ€¦â€
â€œOh. My mom did that once too,â€ I interrupted with a chuckle.
â€œNO!â€ Alistair yelled. Startled, my feet slammed the chair in front of me.
â€œSorry. I didnâ€™t mean to yell. Yes, your mom might have done that, once. But my mom is always forgetting things. She left the bath water running last week and she ruined the carpet in their bedroom because of the flood. She left a lit cigarette on the bedside table, but Dad found it. She keeps calling me Frank. Frank is my uncle, her brother. And the more she forgets, the more she panics and cries and the angrier Dad gets.â€ The anguish in his voice made me turn and look at him closely. Tears rimmed his blue eyes, but he quickly dashed them away.
â€œIâ€™m really worried,â€ he said. â€œDadâ€™s drinking more and spending less time at home. Alice and I are left with Mom a lot more. The other day I had to help her change gears in the car. It was like she forgot how to drive! And then she asked Alice how to boil an egg.â€
I was shocked. Mary was a great cook! Sheâ€™d rustled up so many fantastic dinners for the cast and crew for all the years weâ€™d been involved in theatre. Not able to boil an egg? I was 12, and even I knew how to do that!
But I was only 12, and didnâ€™t know what to say, or do. Alistair sat quietly, running his fingers up and down his jeans. â€œItâ€™s a mess,â€ he sighed finally.
I looked down at the stage where I saw Joan gently talking to Alice, and then motioning for Barbara, the director. The three women huddled together, and I saw Joan pat Maryâ€™s back, and Barbara give her a quick hug.
I might have been 12, but I recognized camaraderie when I saw it. I jostled Alistairâ€™s elbow. â€œLook.â€ I motioned to the stage. â€œI canâ€™t be sure, but I think your mom said something to Joan and Barb.â€
At that moment, Mary looked up into the auditorium, and although I donâ€™t think she could see us clearly, she smiled and waved.
I wish this account had a happy ending, but it doesnâ€™t, not really. A real-life, bitter-sweet ending perhaps. Mary had Early Onset Alzheimerâ€™s, a rare form of the disease seen in people under the age of 65, but in the early 1980s the tools just werenâ€™t there to diagnose it.
For a long while, her husband verbally abused her because of her supposed forgetfulness. But he had to deal with the formidable Joan and Barb â€“ two women who fiercely protected Mary and her children. They created a schedule, and theatre families helped care for Mary, and ensured Alistair and Alice lived life as normally as possible.
Mary passed away about 10 years later, calling Alistair Frank to the end.
Galatians 6:2 (TPT) Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each otherâ€™s troubles.
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